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Pretoria - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found several cases of maladministration in the Northern Cape's Gamagara municipality.
“There is systemic governance failure at the municipality and systemic violations of the law and policies,” she told reporters in Pretoria on Wednesday.
She said several complaints against the municipality and its late mayor Maria Diniza were substantiated. The complaints followed service delivery protests by Olifantshoek residents in 2012 calling for Diniza’s resignation. Three schools were shut down, and pupils prevented from attending classes.
“I was requested to intervene when the community had elected to close schools to back its call for the recall of the mayor on account of allegations of maladministration and corruption,” Madonsela said.
“In support of its demands, the Olifantshoek community had forced local learners to stop going to school, resulting in the closure of all schools in the area.”
Madonsela said Olifantshoek was a “sad story” of failed leadership at various levels of government.
“Children in Olifantshoek lost a whole year of learning in 2012. These would be learners from Grade R to Grade 12,” she said.
“(Some of the)… children are repeating their grades. We should all take collective responsibility for failing the children of Olifantshoek.”
Complaints related to an incomplete road, an incomplete bridge, an incomplete housing project, lack of electricity, and problems with sanitation, along with allegations about the municipality and various officials.
Allegations against Diniza included that she used a farm designated for the community to enrich herself and used a municipal truck to transport her parents' furniture.
“It is true that the mayor’s husband is farming on communal land,” Madonsela said.
She said the municipality did not have a policy to deal with the allocation of communal land for farming.
“The absence of the policy itself constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.”
Madonsela said the allegation about the use of the truck was substantiated. Diniza however claimed she got permission from the premier to use the truck.
“However, the premier did not have such authority. Public property must be used for public purposes,” she said.
“The municipality’s action in this instance constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.”
Madonsela said she only learnt on Tuesday that Diniza died a week ago.
“We have decided to withdraw all of the remedial action (against her) in view of the fact that the mayor has since passed on.”